Operator: Good day, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Belmont Stakes Preview Conference Call.
Jim Mulvihill: Thank you, Michelle, and thanks, everybody, for joining us today. I’m not going to spend a lot of time setting this up. We all know what’s at stake. California Chrome, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner seeks to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner in the Belmont Stakes. That’s next Saturday, June 7th. There hasn’t been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. We’ve been in this position 12 times since, with 11 three year olds having come up short in the Belmont, and the most recent Derby and Preakness winner before this year, I’ll Have Another, scratched the day before the race in 2012. Now nine horses are expected to challenge California Chrome in the one and a half mile “Test of the Champion” as we call it.
Today we’re going to talk to the trainers of three potential spoilers of the Triple Crown. We’ve got Jimmy Jerkens, trainer of Wicked Strong, that’s the winner of the Wood Memorial and he was fourth last time out in the Kentucky Derby; then Billy Gowan, trainer of Preakness runner-up Ride On Curlin; and we’ll talk to Dallas Stewart, trainer of Derby runner-up Commanding Curve. He’s one of four in this race that ran in the Derby but chose to skip the Preakness. Then we’ll finish up with the man of the hour, Art Sherman, trainer of California Chrome talking to us from his Southern California base at Los Alamitos.
Now before we get to our guests, we’ve got a few notes. First I’ll start with the Belmont week broadcast schedule. With the Triple Crown on the line, NBC Sports has expanded its Belmont coverage to 16 hours of programming led by the NBC broadcast of the Belmont Stakes at 4:30 p.m. Eastern on June 7. Coverage begins Wednesday on NBC Sports Network with a half hour documentary, “California Chrome: The Unlikely Champion”, narrated by Bob Costas at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, NBC Sports Network revisits recent Belmont winners in two episodes of “Belmont Classics”. Those are at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Then Friday on NBC Sports Network, live coverage of that afternoon’s stakes action from Belmont, plus all the latest on Belmont Day as part of “Belmont Stakes Access” at 5 p.m., followed by recaps of the Derby and the Preakness at 8:30 and 9:30. Then race coverage on June 7 begins at 2:30 p.m. on NBC Sport Network before switching to the flagship network at 4:30. Bonus post-race coverage will be available on NBC Sport Network at 7 p.m. Our kudos to NBC Sports Group for providing coverage worthy of the occasion.
Also note that they’re going to host a teleconference with their on-air talent after the post-position draw on Wednesday. That’ll be about an hour after the post draw. If you’re on the NTRA distribution list, we’ll make sure that you get the details on how to dial into that call.
The Belmont post-position draw, that’s Wednesday at the track in the Garden Terrace, and that’ll be shown live on MSG Plus beginning at 11 a.m.
Also note, the radio schedule, the Horse Racing Radio Network will be live on Belmont Stakes Day 2 to 7 p.m. Eastern with all of the graded stakes. Also don’t miss “At the Races with Steve Byk”, live from Belmont starting June 4th and on the air every weekday from 10 to 1 Eastern. HRRN and “At the Races” can be heard on Sirius 93 and XM 208.
Also, mark your calendars for a Belmont press luncheon. That’s coming up on Tuesday at noon at Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan. That’s at the 620 Loft & Garden at Rockefeller Center. If you’re interested in that, just e-mail Jim Gluckson. He’s at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, with all that aside, let’s get on with it and talk about some horses. Our first guest this morning is Jimmy Jerkens, trainer of Wicked Strong. The Wood Memorial winner, Wicked Strong, ran a strong fourth in the Derby despite an eventful trip, and almost immediately it was decided that he would skip the Preakness and point to the Belmont at his home base in New York.
Jimmy Jerkens, you’re on with Jim Mulvihill. Thanks for joining us.
Jimmy Jerkens: Thank you.
Jim Mulvihill: So you decided pretty quickly after the Derby that you were going to skip the Preakness and point for the Belmont instead. Tell us why that was such an easy decision to make?
Jimmy Jerkens: I don’t know. It was—we kind of thought to ourselves for some reason that unless he did win the Derby that we were going to skip the Preakness. I guess because we always had in the back of our minds that Belmont would’ve been the one that he would have the best shot in of all the Triple Crown races. I don’t know. I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s because it was right in our backyard and he had shown that the distance would probably be more up his alley than some of the others in there. But after he ran in the Derby, he kind of hit his pastern pretty bad and got kind of—he wasn’t sore on his legs so to speak, but he was sore a little; the spots where he hit his (inaudible). So we—after seeing that we kind of—it kind of made our decision a little easier. We wanted to get the soreness out and get him healed up in time for the Belmont.
Jim Mulvihill: Now that he has had a few weeks, how would you assess his fitness right now, and what are you seeing presently?
Jimmy Jerkens: Well, he’s good and fit. I mean he stays good and fit, but we’ve—you know—he had a real good solid work here three days ago. Three or four days ago he went a mile in 39 on the training track, and galloped out about a mile and an eighth in about 54, so, you know, which is a very good work especially on a training track. We wanted to keep him on the training track to prevent him from going too fast. Sometimes when you—still I wanted to keep that two turn kind of a mind frame going into the Belmont to try to increase our chances of him settling early in the race and saving something for the end.
Jim Mulvihill: Tell us about him in New York? When we had you on before the Derby we talked about how he didn’t really blossom this year until getting out of Florida and coming back up here. Then, you know, he has this history of pre-race antics, so do you think that people can expect that he’s more himself when he’s running out of his own stall in New York?
Jimmy Jerkens: That doesn’t have to be so. I thought he handled himself terrific in Kentucky. He did a little bit of thumping in the gate, but I don’t—that wasn’t any worse than he’s done in New York. So I—just the fact that it’s in our backyard and he seems to like the New York tracks with their consistency, he seems to bounce off the New York tracks a little better than he did in Kentucky, so—but as far as his acting, as far as—I don’t know if it’s going to make that much difference as far as if he acts good or not.
Jim Mulvihill: Very good. Well, Michelle, why don’t you check in with the media and see what kind of questions we have for Mr. Jerkens
Jean Minez: Hey, Jimmy. Since 1978, everything from jockey error to bad luck and everything in between have prevented the completion of the Triple Crown. In your opinion, what scenario is most likely to take place that would be needed to beat California Chrome, whether it’s your horse or someone else’s?
Jimmy Jerkens: Well, obviously California Chrome is going to have a bad day, you know, and it’s a hard grind, the Triple Crown, as everybody knows, especially for the modern day horse. But, you know, I guess a lot of the jockeys have been in the past that have gotten—have been accused of moving a little too quick in the Belmont. Everybody accused Desormeaux of doing it on Real Quiet, although I don’t know if I totally agree with that one, and also Smarty Jones, the rider was also accused of moving too soon. It is very tricky, especially jockeys that haven’t ridden at Belmont. You know, you’re heading to that far turn and you’ve got to remember that you’ve got a long way to go and then at the far turn than any other racetrack. So it’ll take a combination of things to beat him, that’s for sure. Everybody—one of our horses will have to run the race of their life and California Chrome will have to throw in a clunker.
Jean Minez: Thank you.
Frank Angst: Hey, Jimmy. I was wondering if you could just kind of describe the last few weeks with this horse since the Derby; what you’ve seen, just kind of what your mindset was on what you’re trying to get out of him in terms of preparation, and maybe a little bit more on the mile workout that he had?
Jimmy Jerkens: Well, we wanted to stay along the same way we’ve been training him, because he seemed to develop nicely, you know, with longer—kind of the longer works as opposed to the shorter faster ones, especially with the differences increasing. It just—it seems pretty logical. But I really like how he’s handled the work. He’s not a horse that carries a whole lot of flesh to him, but at the same time you need to be prepared. We’ve worked him pretty hard, and I’m really happy with the weight that he’s holding. He’s grown up and learned to handle things, and I really think he’s headed in the right direction.
Frank Angst: Do you prepare any differently for a mile and a half race, or is it the same challenge of just keeping your horse fit and sending him—go ahead?
Jimmy Jerkens: Not really if a horse has already been running long. You know, if you were trying to make a big jump, like years and years ago, John Veitch, who had a filly called Our Mims, who he had been sprinting most of the spring. He worked her a mile and a quarter at Belmont—he might’ve even worked her the full distance— I think he might’ve even worked her the full distance, and everybody was ridiculing him. And Woody Stephens, I remember he was saying and he was kind of being sarcastic about it and everything like that, but he felt she needed it because he had been—you know—I don’t think she had been over 7 furlongs for that whole spring. So, you know, and he proved it. He ended up winning the race, so he, you know, he made a lot of people a believer.
So, you know, like I said, though, in this horse’s case, a mile and a half, you know, it is a lot further than anybody’s been, but I figured if we stayed along the same way we’ve been training him, you know, he has been making forward motion in all of his races—at the end of all his races since he came back from Florida, so we figured we’d keep up the same kind of a training schedule.
Debbie Arrington: Hi. Thanks for coming on today. You’ve—Jimmy, you’re based there in New York. You’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of these Belmonts over the years, and we’ve had a lot of close calls. Have you been there for a lot of the almost Belmont winners and almost Triple Crown winners during this gap since Affirmed, and were there any that you thought were going to succeed that didn’t?
Jimmy Jerkens: Well, I thought the one that had the best chance was Smarty Jones. You know, I thought he—I thought he had won his races with more authority and I thought he—although he particularly wasn’t bred for the mile and a half, I just thought he had the class edge in a big way over the rest of them that year. But we all know it wasn’t meant to be. But also the one year I remember was Real Quiet. He got—I mean he got beat an inch for the Triple Crown, and I just can’t imagine how devastating that must’ve been for all the connections I thought after he won the Derby, I didn’t really like him for the Preakness, but he ended up winning that and he ended up getting beat a head for everything or a nose. I remember that race more than all the rest of them because I finished third in the race with a gelding that was bought for 50,000, so that was a big thrill. His name was Thomas Jo.
Debbie Arrington: Do you think that—is it the track more than anything that beats these horses?
Jimmy Jerkens: I don’t know. It’s not the same every year. I mean it’s not—obviously it isn’t the same when it’s wet because it might be faster some years. There might be—they have—if it’s run on under real hot conditions the track might dry out a little. You know, a big track like that is awful hard to keep a lot of water on it and it might get a little deep. But, you know, that’s the thing; everybody is running over the same track on that same particular day at that same particular time, so I don’t know if anybody is in more of an advantage than anybody else even if you’re training in New York. The track in New York can vary a lot day by day, more so than any other track.
Debbie Arrington: Very good. Well, best of luck.
Jimmy Jerkens: Thank you.
Beth Harris: You’ve been at Belmont. Have you seen California Chrome the last week or so as he’s been galloping there?
Jimmy Jerkens: Actually, I’ve only saw—I only saw him one day when—and it was quite—it was over a week ago, and I haven’t seen him since because I’m stabled far away from the main track, and I don’t—it takes me—I keep the majority of my horses over there at the training track. We do take a set over to the main track; a set or two every day. But he’s been going out between 6:30 and 7, and that’s usually not a time where I head over there to the main track, so, no, I haven’t seen much of him.
Beth Harris: Well, I guess I’m wondering what are you hearing? I mean obviously everybody talks at the track. They haven’t done a lot with him since the Preakness, but what are you hearing about how he looks and how he’s galloping?
Jimmy Jerkens: No, they don’t—well, he’s—he certainly can’t need a lot what he’s been through. You know, everybody we all agree that the horses nowadays aren’t as rugged as they used to be, yet this is the only time where people even dream of running them back this close together in these tougher races, so you—a person has to sit back and, you know, save him all he can. You know, it’s hard to imagine he could lose too much—that much fitness between races even—he is galloping two miles a day. Now I know he doesn’t gallop fast or anything like that, but two miles is two miles. So he is getting, you know, he is getting out there every day and it sounds like they’re going to give him a little blowout kind up close to the ace, and, you know, from the outside looking in it looks like the right—you know—the right thing to do. Just looking at the horse, he’s not a horse that—he’s a very athletic looking horse, and a horse that isn’t carrying any extra flesh as he wouldn’t after the campaign he’s had. So I wouldn’t go—I’m not thinking anything’s up by his—by them not doing any more than he’s doing in the morning. I think it’s—it makes perfect sense from what I can see.
Beth Harris: Okay, thank you.
Jim Mulvihill: All right, Jimmy, the only other thing I wanted to touch on was the pace of the race. I mean you said that in order to win, California Chrome would have to run less than his best race, but also on top of that, I imagine there’s a scenario that you would think of as ideal for your chances. Can you just describe what that would be?
Jimmy Jerkens: Not really going a mile and a half. It’s all so hard. It’s so different. It’s hard to imagine if he—he could—things could happen where he could end up close—he could end up close to the pace, who knows. It all depends on how each horse comes out of the gate, and, you know, it could be a complete flip flop as far as the pace goes. So I wouldn’t—I couldn’t—it’s even—I couldn’t even dream to think of—oh and it also depends on their post position, right? I can’t really think of any scenario that would be better. I probably wouldn’t want him on the lead unless everybody just came out of the gate and pulled their horses up, which never happens, so it’s just one of those things that Rajiv’s going to just have to—after he comes out of the gate and gallops into the turn, he’ll just have to decide if he’s going to go on a little bit or—and get a position, or tuck in and save. He should know by then what—by the time he gets him to the—into the first turn what the pace is going to be like. So I have confidence in Rajiv, but I can’t really—I really couldn’t—it would be unfair to say what the ideal trip would be, because it’s, again, it’s a mile and a half and it’s so much different than anything else, so.
Jim Mulvihill: And despite the Kentucky Derby and the Wood, I mean he has sat—he has sat closer as a two year old, and it’s not like Wicked Strong is a confirmed closer by any means.
Jimmy Jerkens: No. Again, it all depends on pace. And like in the Wood Memorial, although that was—that’s why I liked his chances so much when he turned down the backside is because he was laying close—relatively close to a very fast pace without being asked to, and that’s when you know your horse is really doing good. You know, that—just coming up from Florida he was super good, and, you know, I can’t really tell—I can’t really tell much—the Derby was still a big question mark. I thought he ran very well to be fourth, but at the same time, I’m not sure if it—I really can’t say if he ran as good as he did in the Wood either, so. But like I said, we’re really happy with how he’s training and we expect a big effort out of him.
Jim Mulvihill: Very good. Well, Jimmy, we appreciate your time today, and good luck in the Belmont.
Jimmy Jerkens: Thank you very much.
Jim Mulvihill: All right. Jimmy Jerkens, trainer of Wicked Strong.
We’ll roll right into our next guest, and that is Billy Gowan, the trainer of Ride On Curlin. Ride On Curlin, of course, will likely be the only three year old aside from California Chrome to run in all three of the Triple Crown races. He was seventh in the Derby, gobbling up ground after running a distant last the first half mile, and then he came back to finish a strong second in the Preakness. Ride On Curlin arrived in New York the Tuesday after the race in Baltimore, and he’s just two stalls down from California Chrome in Barn 26. Bronco Billy Gowan arrived in New York on Tuesday of this week.
Billy, you’re on with Jim Mulvihill. Thanks for being with us.
Billy Gowan: Thanks for having me.
Jim Mulvihill: Absolutely. It’s our pleasure. Maybe to start you can just tell us what Ride On Curlin did this morning at Belmont and your impressions of him since you got to town?
Billy Gowan: Well, he galloped a mile and a half this morning, and he was super; just looked like he always does, you know, just galloping with his ears up. I thought he looked really good. As far as he’s looked since I’ve got here, I think he looks excellent. He carries his weight really well. He, you know, he’s still got a good look in his eye. He’s a tough horse, so I’m pleased with everything.
Jim Mulvihill: Yes, tell us more about that toughness; that durability. I mean he’s run six or seven times this year, and showed up for, you know, Louisville and Baltimore. What kind of throwback horse is this that is able to run this often and not slow down?
Billy Gowan: Well, I mean so far, like I said, his energy is just as high as it’s always been. He hasn’t missed a note since before the Kentucky Derby. He’s eating up every night and he’s calling for feed every morning. His legs have been just as cold and tight as you could ask them to be. So I don’t know; he’s just a tough horse. You know, he can take a lot of work. I took him two miles on Tuesday, and he went the last mile in 1:51, and he’s always had legs coming back on the track, you know? So he’s just—like I said, he can take a lot of work.
Jim Mulvihill: Are you going to get a work in this weekend?
Billy Gowan: Yes, I’ll probably work him Sunday. It kind of depends on the weather. We’ll watch the weather. If it’s going to rain we’ll maybe do it Saturday or, you know, somewhere Saturday, Sunday or Monday, but my plan is to work him on Sunday.
Jim Mulvihill: Great. Okay, and I want to ask about your rider, too. You picked up John Velazquez. He’s a two-time Belmont winner. But you lost Joel Rosario and this will be your fifth jockey in five starts. I mean is this an issue for you as far as you’re concerned or does it not matter at this point?
Billy Gowan: Oh, I don’t really think it matters. You know, the horse makes the trainer, the jockey, and everybody. So, you know, he’s sitting on a nice horse and I’m happy to have him. He knows this track as good as any jockey out there, and, you know, I think if your horse is right, Johnny V. can get him there just as well as Joel.
Liz O’Connell: Welcome to New York, and could you elaborate a bit about how you choose—have you been training mostly on the main track or are you using the training track? How are you deciding what surface to train on?
Billy Gowan: Well, I’ve been training on the main track every day. You know, that’s where he’s going to run and I just like that big mile and a half track. You know, he can stretch his legs and not a lot of horses around him, so that’s the track he’s going to run over, so I’m comfortable with training over the main track.
Liz O’Connell: How do you like it?
Billy Gowan: I think it’s an excellent surface. You know, we were here last fall for the Champagne, and he got over really well that day or that week before, and I don’t see any difference being here this time. He’s getting over just as good as he did last time, and he seems really happy, and his legs are staying good and they’re holding tight, so I’m pleased with it all.
Danny Brewer: Talk about the ride that you’ve had over the last month or so with this horse, and what it’s meant to you as a trainer and a horseman?
Billy Gowan: Well, you know, (inaudible) the first time to do this, but it sure has been a lot of fun. I’m just proud of the fact that, you know, I picked the horse down at the sale, we got him—we ran him, you know, pretty often as a two year old and he stood the test. All this year he’s never missed a (inaudible), and he’s just like he always is. He’s just—you know—he’s full of energy and he’s a tough horse. So it’s been—I’m really proud of the horse more than anything just be able to make everything and to carry us this far.
Danny Brewer: Now as far as dancing, what do you think is going to happen here at the Belmont? Are you going to be cutting a real rug up here square dancing? And what’s going on? You got a game plan, and you think your horse is ready?
Billy Gowan: Well, I mean I definitely think the horse is ready. I mean I wouldn’t be running just to say I ran in the Belmont. I think I’ve got a legitimate chance of winning it or I wouldn’t be here. You know, I’ve got closer to California Chrome than anybody else has this year, so hopefully with a little added distance we can maybe take him. But he’s a tough horse, you know. I’ve got all the respect in the world for him. But I really think, you know, my horse gets a good clean run, we’ve got a good chance with him.
Danny Brewer: Billy, I appreciate your time and I wish you the best of luck.
Billy Gowan: Thanks a lot.
Terri Keith: When Nick Zito’s Birdstone beat Smarty Jones in the Belmont, he said he felt sorry. How do you feel about the prospect of your horse being the upsetter and upsetting another Triple Crown chance?
Billy Gowan: Well, I tried to do it in the Derby and the Preakness and I couldn’t get it done, but if I could do it in the Belmont, I’ll be—I won’t be too upset. I’ll be elated, to tell you the truth. You know, that’s what we’re here for. Art’s trying to beat me just as bad as I’m trying beat him. No, I won’t be too upset with it.
Terri Keith: Thank you.
Tim Wilkin: A lot’s been made about the modest beginnings of California Chrome, the breeding and all of that. Are you surprised that he’s done what he’s been able to do considering where he came from?
Billy Gowan: No, not really, because I mean you never know where a good horse is going to come from. You know, they don’t really have to have royal bloodlines to be a racehorse. I think it comes in a little more important when they’re a stallion prospect, but, you know, a racehorse can come from anywhere. Look at John Henry. He didn’t have any—you know—a whole lot of serious breeding, and he’s one of the greatest racehorses who’s ever lived. No, I’m not surprised at all with it. You know, God made a fast one.
Tim Wilkin: Now you saw him—you’ve seen him a lot especially down at Pimlico. What are your impressions of him when you see him up close?
Billy Gowan: Well, he carries his weight really well, too. He’s kind of like my horse. He’s a lot longer type of horse than mine, but he’s a real sound looking horse, too. You know, he’s a tough horse. He doesn’t miss—he’s on his feet and goes about his business. He’s a little quieter than my horse, but he sure does look good. He carries himself like a racehorse; you know, he doesn’t have a lot of wasted energy, he doesn’t get nervous or anything like that, he just—he’s got a good mind.
Tim Wilkin: If everything’s equal, does he win the race?
Billy Gowan: No, because it’s never really been equal. You know, he’s had—well, I mean he’s had two perfect trips, and he’s had really excellent post positions. You know, in the Derby we had 19 and in the Preakness I was 10 out of 10; I was off on the outside again. So I’d like to just get a good post position and a good clean run and we’ll see.
Beth Harris: I know we haven’t had the field finalized yet or post positions drawn, but can you just kind of look ahead and how do you see this mile and a half unfolding?
Billy Gowan: Well, you know, it’s just hard to say. You know, I don’t know if it’s going to be a hot pace, a slow pace, or whatever. You know, I think it’s more of a jockey’s race than anything is to—not to ask your horse too soon. But, you know, it’s just hard for me to say how it’s going to unfold, because, you know, as soon as you say something it could be the total opposite; a horse will get left in the gate or whatever. But hopefully everybody will get a clean break and have a clean trip and may the best horse win.
Beth Harris: The—can you talk about the jockeys a little bit? Is it the kind of race where because of what’s on the line for Chrome that he’s going to be riding with a bull’s eye on his back, or do you expect any opportunity other riders might try to box him in or just try to play spoiler somewhere out on the track?
Billy Gowan: Well, I think every jockey is going to try to be winning the race. You know, I don’t know about boxing him in or this and that. I don’t even know if they can box him in; he’s a pretty quick horse. But, you know, I don’t really know. Hopefully they ride a smart race, and, you know, everybody gives their horse a chance to win.
Debbie Arrington: Ride On Curlin has been stabled pretty close to Chrome these last two races. Have you gotten to know the Chrome crew much, and are you guys developing a friendly rivalry, or how are you guys getting along?
Billy Gowan: Oh, we get along great. I actually met Art in Churchill; didn’t get to visit with him much. We were stabled right next to each other in Pimlico and staying in the same hotel. So we’ve gotten to know each other really well, and they’re just good people, down to earth; just the kind of people I like. So, no, we’ve been having a lot of fun, and it is a friendly rivalry. But, you know, I have a great appreciation for his horse, too. I like watching him train, and I just like watching good horses, and, you know, so it’s been nice to be around him.
Debbie Arrington: Do the—the horses, do they seem to interact at all? Do they seem to—I mean they’re pretty close together there at the stable.
Billy Gowan: Well, they look at each other, you know, when they have their heads out the door, (inaudible) always together, so—and they rode in the same van from Pimlico to Belmont. So, you know, I think they’re getting to know each other, too. We all get along.
Jean Minez: Hey, Billy. Since Affirmed, everything from jockey error to bad luck to a safety pin have been—and everything in between have prevented the completion of the Triple Crown. In your opinion, what scenario is most likely to take place that would be needed to beat California Chrome, whether it’s your horse or someone else’s?
Billy Gowan: Well, I think it’s going to take a really good horse to beat him for one thing, and a horse that has, you know, absolutely a no trouble trip; a good post position and everything. I think that’s the only way you could beat him, because he’s strong and shows a lot of heart and he’s just a nice horse. So, you know, so I have—like I said, a little bit of luck, a good trip, and a fast horse is what it’s going to take to beat him.
Jean Minez: You know, Jimmy was just on here earlier and he said that to beat Chrome it might take a little bit of regression on his part and someone stepping up on—another horse stepping up. In your opinion, do you think Chrome needs to regress in order to be beaten?
Billy Gowan: That may be the only way to beat him. You know, he might have to take a step back. But, you know, I’m in the same barn with him every day, and he doesn’t look like he’s regressing to me any. He looks like he’s training nicely. So it’s just hard to say. You never know which horse really wants to go a mile and a half. You don’t ask them that too often, and, you know, some horses absolutely do not want to go a mile and a half and then some horses who will thrive on it. So it kind of depends on the horse. It’s really the unknown because nobody really knows; we’ve never tried it.
Jim Mulvihill: All right, Billy. It was great talking to you again, and we appreciate your time. Good luck in the Belmont. Thanks for joining us.
Billy Gowan: Thanks for having me. Bye.
Jim Mulvihill: All right, that was Billy Gowan. He’s the trainer of Ride On Curlin. We’re going to keep rolling in this Belmont Stakes Preview Call to our next guest, and that is trainer Dallas Stewart. He’s got Commanding Curve, who closed for second in the Derby, and that was actually the second straight year that Dallas Stewart saddled a Derby runner-up at long shot odds.
Jim Mulvihill: Hey, Dallas. Thanks for getting on with us.
Dallas Stewart: Thank you so much.
Jim Mulvihill: Hey, well maybe to start, maybe you can tell us where Commanding Curve is right now? I understand you were shipping today?
Dallas Stewart: Yes, actually he’s on his—he’s en route right now so he’s on the (inaudible) airplane. Should be here probably about 3 o’clock.
Jim Mulvihill: All right and how about yourself, where are you at?
Dallas Stewart: I’m here. I’m at Belmont.
Jim Mulvihill: Okay, great. Well, you know, let’s talk about Commanding Curve since the Derby. You know, were talking to Jimmy Jerkens about how easy the decision it was to skip the Preakness. How was it for you? I mean you didn’t take but a day or two to decide to skip Baltimore.
Dallas Stewart: Well, we just kind of figured it, you know, I mean that were weren’t, you know, going to be a Triple Crown winner since we got beat, so we just gave the horse a little more time and hopefully it’ll benefit us for this race is what we were thinking.
Jim Mulvihill: Are there reasons aside from the spacing that you felt that the Belmont was the better spot for you, or was it strictly about two weeks and then five weeks—versus five weeks for this one?
Dallas Stewart: I’d say pretty much the spacing and just, you know, trying to keep the horse together and do the right thing. You know, I mean not that it’s not the—not that it’s always the wrong thing running back in two weeks; I’ve done it before, but, you know, just figuring that it’s a lot of big time races for the horse later on that it would be the right route to go. We’ll see.
Jim Mulvihill: Got you. You know, you’ve let this horse come around pretty slowly this spring in general. You know, most of these in the Belmont we’ve got a pretty good idea of who they are right now, but with Commanding Curve, could he still take a few more big steps forward?
Dallas Stewart: You know, he should. He’s a (audio interference) horse so that’s why we kind of took our time with him, and, you know, just waited until the races were stretched out. He ran at Saratoga and then we got him to Churchill and ran him—just took our time with him, and, you know, he’s progressed, so.
Beth Harris: You pulled a big upset at Belmont before with Unbridled Elaine in the Breeders’ Cup. What would it take for your horse or another horse to beat California Chrome in the Belmont?
Dallas Stewart: Well, I mean, you know, you’ve got to want to run a mile and a half, and have a good trip. You know, all these horses are untested at that distance so it’s going to be interesting to see, you know, how it sorts itself out. But, you know, we’ll see. It’s going to be a great race. You can’t take anything away from California Chrome; you know, he does nothing but win, so he’ll probably be pretty tough to beat.
Beth Harris: Thanks.
Dallas Stewart: Thank you.
Jean Minez: Hey, Dallas. Beth kind of took my question a little bit, but I’ll ask another one. Jimmy Jerkens was just on here a little while ago and said that Chrome might have to throw in a clunker for any of the other horses to thwart the Triple Crown. In your opinion, is that accurate? Does Chrome need to not run his race in order for someone else to win?
Dallas Stewart: Well, I mean that’s a possibility that always can happen. But like I said, you know, these horses are all untested at this distance, so, you know, it’s just a matter of stamina and whatever horse is going to take to the distance. You know, I mean he could still run—you know—I think that he could still run his race and get outrun. You know, that’s a possibility. But, you know, as we see it, he’s the favorite and he’s the one that’s going to win, so, you know, if he throws a clunker that’s one thing, but I mean there’s definitely, you know, including Jimmy’s horse who is very talented; I liked him for the Derby, I thought he looked great, so I mean there’s—I think there’s a handful of horses that are definitely capable to beat him maybe even on his best day. So at this distance (audio interference)…
Jean Minez: The past 11 Derby and Preakness winners who have failed to win the Belmont, did you ever look at any of them as a shoe-in to win the Triple Crown that you thought was, you know, a—had the best shot to win?
Dallas Stewart: Well, I mean, you know, it looked like Smarty Jones was—I mean all the horses that won, you know, those Derby and Preakness, you know, yes I liked them. You know, I thought that they would win potentially. But you just don’t know about the distance here, so that’s the big factor and the big unknown. So, you know, and the jockey, you know, it has to be a perfectly ridden race, you know, so there’s a lot of factors. So I mean there’s a lot of factors that can get you beat in this race, too, so there you go.
Jean Minez: Thank you.
Dallas Stewart: Okay, thank you.
Terri Keith: Hi. I was just wondering how you felt about the prospect of your horse upsetting a potential Triple Crown winner and what that might or might not do for racing?
Dallas Stewart: You know, I mean that’s kind of a hard question to answer. I mean our job is to go out there and to win a horserace, so I mean I don’t think ours winning will set back horseracing at all. But I mean if California Chrome does win, I mean, sure, that’s a great thing for racing, yes absolutely, but, you know, by us winning, I don’t think we’ll hurt horseracing at all. But I mean it will help it or hurt it I guess that’s yet to be seen.
Debbie Arrington: Hi, Dallas. Thanks for coming on here today. I wanted to follow-up on—you started to say that there’s a lot of factors that can get you beat in this race, too. What are some of those factors that you think could get Chrome beat?
Dallas Stewart: Well, you know, I mean just any horse like, you know, you listen to (inaudible) like Gerry Daly (ph) and those guys, and they, you know, they can talk about a rider moving too soon, riders being unfamiliar with the course, you know, potential of rain, you know, a lot of people here, and maybe the horse might not handle the paddock (ph) or something; you know, there’s different ways to lose a horse race. You know, so there’s just a lot of different things that can add up. You know, sometimes the horse just overcomes everything and he’s just the best horse and he wins. So we’ll see.
Debbie Arrington: What do you think would be the best case scenario for Commanding Curve?
Dallas Stewart: Oh, he needs to be placed well, and, you know, not as far back as he was in the Derby; a good clean trip, not getting stopped or anything when he’s placing his run down, and, you know, just have a chance from the quarter pole to the wire, so I think that would be the best scenario.
David Grening: Dallas, could you compare this horse to Golden Soul and compare your mindset coming into this race with this horse versus your mindset coming into last year’s race?
Dallas Stewart: Yes, I mean I think this horse actually came out of the race in better shape than Golden Soul weight-wise. Like Golden Soul had lost some weight, and, you know, I only worked him one time. I was kind of struggling trying to get the weight back on him and do the right thing that we do with horses to compete. This horse, he looks like he’s put on a lot of muscle since the race. He’s had two works. He’ll have one here also at Belmont so that should give him three. He’s trained very steady. He looks great to me. A lot of things that we like to see. He’s eating well, you know, coming up to the race in good shape. You know, we hope to get a decent breeze on Saturday or Sunday, and just go from there.
David Grening: Do you feel that this field is tougher—Commanding Curve is facing a tougher group overall than, say, last year, when Golden Soul was facing the group that he faced?
Dallas Stewart: I mean possibly. I mean I thought Orb was, you know—I don’t know. That’s a tough one, Dave. I mean, you know, it’s a bunch of nice horses that ran last year and this year, so I mean we’ll see. It’s a tough question.
David Grening: Do you have a preference on what day you want to work? I know it’s probably depending on weather, but given equal weather, do you prefer Saturday or Sunday?
Dallas Stewart: Yes—well, I don’t know yet. We’ll get him in—and he’s on his way, so he’ll gallop tomorrow, Friday, and then probably I’d like to gallop him two days, but we’ll see. We’ll see how he handles things.
Pat Forde: Hey, Dallas. I was just wondering, Todd Pletcher said last week that he thought some jockeys had been kind to California Chrome the first two Triple Crown races. Do you anticipate that changing for the Belmont and maybe trying to either box him in or just make him uncomfortable during his run?
Dallas Stewart: Well, you know, I mean probably—I’m not going to put words in Todd’s mouth, but I mean probably what Todd’s trying to say is the horse really had two perfect trips. I mean just beautiful. I mean we dream about having those types of trips in big racing events. And, you know, it may or may not happen on Belmont Day, and if it does, then that could be one thing that could get him beat, you know? I mean that’s kind of what I’ve been thinking that if he gets in a little bit of trouble or, you know, some trouble comes his way, how is he going to handle it? You know, I mean—so he’s just had two beautiful, perfect trips. That jockey has just given him two great trips. I mean my hat’s off to him, so.
Tim Wilkin: Hey, Dallas. Going in—leading up to the Derby there were horsemen on the Churchill Downs backstretch that said openly that they didn’t believe in California Chrome because of his breeding; because of Cal-bred. Were you one of them, and if so, why?
Dallas Stewart: Oh, yes, I was wrong. Yes, I was wrong. Yes, I mean, you know, we try to all be smart and try to add up their breeding and their, you know, this and that, but it’s—I don’t know, you can’t like them all, you know. I mean you’ve got to respect this Santa Anita Derby winner, and you’ve got to respect the Louisiana Derby winners, you’ve got respect those winners, but, you know, by the time we started thinking about his pedigree and stuff like that, I mean we were just wrong, that’s all it was. The horse is just a runner. He’s a very nice horse.
Tim Wilkin: Going into it was it because of the pedigree you thought no way he could win the Derby?
Dallas Stewart: I mean I added that part of it. Yes, the pedigree was kind of, you know, one thing that I held against him, so…
Tim Wilkin: What else did you hold against him?
Dallas Stewart: You know, just California, you know, just kind of is a speed track at Santa Anita. You know, maybe he was winning pretty easy and maybe he was a little light on conditioning. I was hoping—you know—just hoping different things that might play into the scenario where he would—it would cost him to some degree, whether it was pedigree, his conditioning, you know, because he’d been winning so easy, and—but we were wrong.
Tim Wilkin: So going into the Derby he was—you tossed him?
Dallas Stewart: Yes, sir. Well, on my ticket I did. Yes, for sure. I might’ve been—all my friends didn’t. They all made money but me.
Tim Wilkin: Thanks, Dallas.
Jim Mulvihill: All right, Dallas, well we really appreciate your time today. Thanks for coming on and good luck in the Belmont with Commanding Curve.
Dallas Stewart: Thank you, sir.
Jim Mulvihill: All right. That was Dallas Stewart, and now we’re going to roll on to our final guest, and that, of course, is Art Sherman, the trainer of California Chrome; the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner.
Jim Mulvihill: All right, thanks for being on our call today. How’s the—you’re out in Southern California, correct? Are you at Los Alamitos?
Art Sherman: Yes, I am. Right now I just finished up at the barn, and that’s where I’m at.
Jim Mulvihill: Okay, well as you’ve been out there since Baltimore, how have you been getting word of California Chrome and his doings each morning?
Art Sherman: Well, it’s funny, my son calls me at 4 in the morning because he gets him out at 7 over that time. I get the rundown as soon as he gets back down and then I get to watch it on TV; the gallops every day. It’s pretty cool.
Jim Mulvihill: And watching the video of these gallops, what are your impressions of him?
Art Sherman: Well, he looks awful good right now. He seems to be striding out and taking a hold of the bit. I was happy with the way he’s training.
Jim Mulvihill: Excellent. Happy to hear it. Well, let’s talk about the potential Triple Crown. I mean we had the past Triple Crown winners on a call Tuesday, and, you know, a lot of those connections were saying that versatility is the one quality that a Triple Crown winner needs, and it seems that your horse has versatility—all the versatility a horse could need. So can you just talk about that strength and the need for that in the Belmont Stakes?
Art Sherman: Well, I’m sure that that has a lot to do with it. You know, I can about set him in the place I want to be. I’m not 100% sure who is all going to be in there yet. You know, I won’t know until Wednesday when the entries are drawn. You know, you have different people opting out for different reasons, so once I see who’s all in there and I get the PPs and go over the race with Victor just to see, you know, what kind of speed is in the race. Going a mile and a half it’s going to be a whole new ball game, you know what I mean? If they slow down the pace to a walk he’s going to be probably galloping on the lead (ph).
Jim Mulvihill: Are you worried about the other riders having their eye on California Chrome the whole way? I mean we’ve seen that before.
Art Sherman: I would think so. He’s going to have a target on his back, you know what I mean? That’s just the way it is, you know, when you have a sure (ph) favorite like he has been dominating (inaudible). I’m sure everybody knows that they can’t let him have everything his own way or else you can’t beat him.
Jim Mulvihill: Right. Well…
Art Sherman: So I’m sure it’ll be different tactics with different people, you know, but that’s okay as long as they’re sure he’s going to be out of trouble and have a spot where he can run the last part of it, that’s all I care about.
Jim Mulvihill: Excellent. And speaking of Victor, I mean Victor is six for six with this horse, and I’m curious if you can give us a little more detail about, you know, some of the nuances of what Victor has done with this horse since he’s gotten on him. It seems like they get along so well, but are there specific details that you can point to that he’s done differently?
Art Sherman: Well, I really think that, you know, and him knowing the horse, and he gets him to relax for him, you know, he’s kind of pushbutton, and he’s gotten to know him really well and what position he needs to be in, and, you know, who is in front of him and who’s coming up beside him. He’s a pretty intelligent rider, and I’m sure he’ll do a great job. I’ve never given him any instructions when he’s rode the horse last time, so I don’t look for anything different.
Jim Mulvihill: Now there have been, as has been often cited the last few weeks, I mean 12 other horses since 1978 have been in this position. Are there any qualities you can point to that California Chrome might possess that perhaps some of these other very good horses that weren’t able to win the Belmont, is there anything that California Chrome has that maybe they were lacking?
Art Sherman: Well, I really don’t know the other horses and how they trained up to the races and got beat. You know, I’m just going by my horse, you know what I mean? I’ve watched the other races when they’ve failed. You know, I don’t know if they just got flat outrun or they just were just tired from the Triple Crown races. I just don’t know. But I know my horse is coming into this race great, and if it’s meant to be it’s meant to be, you know what I mean? They’ll have him to beat. (Inaudible).
Pat Forde: Hi, Art. I was just wondering, a lot’s been made obviously about the mental makeup of your horse and where it seems like he’s able to be put wherever he needs to be in a race. But I’m wondering if you’ve looked at herd dynamics at all with him, and if you maybe were impressed at all also by the way he just kind of seemed to command his space in the Preakness?
Art Sherman: Well, he just—that’s the way he is, you know what I mean? I was worried a little bit running back in two weeks. I didn’t know—you know—he was training good and acting good, but still two weeks you’re firing him right back. I just was so proud of him, you know. He had to move a little quicker than I usually see him move. He had to move at the half mile pole when that horse wheeled out on the outside, you know what I mean, and tried to put a little pressure to him. So he had to press the button a little bit earlier than he usually does. But he’s still a game horse and he put that horse Social Inclusion away, you know what I mean? He tried to challenge him from the three eighth pole, you know what I mean? I just think that he’s that kind of horse. You’re going to have to run by him to beat him. You’re not going to do it lollygagging around. You’re not going to do it to him just all out thinking that you’ll outrun him; you’re just not going to be able to do that.
Pat Forde: Yes, and that—speaking of that, I mean you’ve talked a bit about how he just kind of puts that kick on and kind of staggers the competition. Has he always had that or did that develop in him?
Art Sherman: Well, he’s developing it. You know, he started doing that in the San Felipe, and I noticed that—the determination that he has. He doesn’t want any horse passing him, you know what I mean, and tried him and Midnight Hawk hooked him and he just put him away right then and there, you know what I mean? Then at the Santa Anita Derby they were all surrounding him and had him in tight and he put them away, you know what I mean? In the Kentucky Derby he was flat out and he drew away, and, you know, I think he won with something left. Maybe a lot of people don’t think so, but I sure did, and here we are coming for the Triple Crown. You saw what happened in the Preakness, and Victor said he’s never been to the bottom of this horse yet, so that makes me feel good, you know what I mean? I’m looking forward to this race coming up and I feel more confident I think coming into this race than I did any race.
Pat Forde: Thank you.
Art Sherman: You’re welcome.
Melissa Hoppert: Hi, Mr. Sherman. The 10-day forecast just came out today and it’s calling for a 70% chance of rain. He’s never raced on a wet racetrack. Can you talk about how he would handle that racetrack, and also does that mean he’ll be a little bit nervous?
Art Sherman: Well, it makes me a little nervous because he’s never run in the slop. But I’ve watched him train over there. You know, I really think it’s going to be to his advantage. It’s going to be packed down; the sloppy racetrack they usually seal it to keep the rain from making it too sloshy, and if he can hear his feet rattle on that type of a racetrack I think it’ll be to his advantage.
Melissa Hoppert: Thank you.
Art Sherman: You’re welcome.
Operator: Thank you. The next question comes from Danny Brewer Thegreatest2minutes.com. Please go ahead.
Danny Brewer: Hey, Artie. How’s it going, man?
Art Sherman: All right. I’m getting pumped up. It’s getting closer.
Danny Brewer: That’s right. Now talk for a second about the confidence that just seems to surround Chrome, and do you think that his aura has bred off him to you guys as far as his exercise rider and Victor and you? Does his confidence—is confidence breeding confidence here?
Art Sherman: Well, I just want to tell you, I can’t believe a horse bounces back like he does, and I’m watching him train and he’s put on weight now and he’s girded full up (ph). He’s put on about 40 to 50 pounds after that race, and he’s got his weight looking good, and he looks alert, and he’s doing actually great at training over there. He went into the paddock today and schooled and never turned a hair. I’m going to take him to the gate tomorrow and stand him. You know, that’s my ritual with him just to make sure that he can break clean and have a good position leaving there.
Danny Brewer: What is all this—what has all this stuff meant to you and your son and Coburn and all those guys? How much closer has it brought you together?
Art Sherman: Well, it’s brought us a lot closer together. You know, you think the first of the year next year would be where we are now. It’s like a dream come true, you know what I mean? Here we are on the Road to the Triple Crown, and I really didn’t know he’d rattle off six races like he did with ease. You know, he’s a different horse now, and he’s maturing and he’s very confident in himself, you know what I mean? He feels like, hey, I’m here and let’s see you outrun me, and that’s the confidence that he give us.
Danny Brewer: You mentioned that Victor doesn’t think he’s ever gotten to the bottom of him. Is the Belmont going to be about just letting that rascal roll and maybe you will get to the bottom of him, because he just needs to take off and run?
Art Sherman: Well, we’ll just kind of play it by ear and see how it comes about, you know what I mean? I’m not sure how the race is going to unfold as of yet, you know what I mean? I don’t really know for sure what horses are going to run; not until the draw I’ll see who’s going to be there. They said a couple of horses might go in a different direction. I know Candy Boy and a couple of others bailed out already on us, so I just don’t know for sure until I can see the lineup of the race.
Danny Brewer: Artie, I appreciate your time, man, and I wish you the best of luck.
Art Sherman: I appreciate that.
Jean Minez: Hey, Art. Of all the factors that could get California Chrome beaten in the Belmont, everything from jockey error to coming back in three weeks to getting the distance to just plain bad luck and everything in between, what factor or factors concern you most?
Art Sherman: Well, I always wonder, you know, one thing is stamina, you know what I mean; going a mile and a half after running all these tough races. I just think if it’s, you know, all of a sudden you can blow a race like this in part two, you know what I mean? I’ve watched horses that have ability, and you can’t let a horse like mine dictate what’s going to happen, you know what I mean? He’s got that runner in him, he has speed, he’s in a tactical spot, you know, he’s going to go out there and (inaudible) himself off for the Belmont, you know what I mean? It could be a walking pace the first part of it, you know, and I’ve seen that happen where the pace kills the race (inaudible), and then all of a sudden the guys that kick it in the last part of it don’t get there, you know, because somebody sneaks away and opens up and still has horse left, you know? This kind of gives me an idea when I take a look at the format of who’s going to I think bow out. And I’ve got to leave a lot of that up to Victor, you know what I mean? He’s a head’s up rider. He’s been there before, and I’ve got to just let him ride his race. It’s hard for me to just be a backseat driver, you know what I mean? I rode for 22 years. I know it can’t be done unless you—you see just the way the race unfolds.
Jean Minez: Jimmy Jerkens was on here earlier and he said that Chrome will have to throw in a clunker in order to be beaten. Do you agree with Jimmy’s assessment?
Art Sherman: Well, you know, I think a lot of people have a lot more respect than this horse had going into the Derby. I know that he made a lot of guys look some place else to run, you know. I really think he’s the Real McCoy, and I think you’re going to see a champion. I’m hoping it’s the Triple Crown.
Jean Minez: Thanks, Art.
Art Sherman: You’re welcome.
David Grening: Yes, Art, you said you feel more confident coming into this race than any other race. Why?
Art Sherman: Well, I just like what I see. The horse has taught me. You know, if it wasn’t that I know this horse and he looked so darn good when I’ve seen them giving him a bath and he’s wanting to do something and he’s playing and feeling good, you know what I mean? Victor will be working on Saturday. I’ll have a little bit more of an idea after he works. I know that it’s going to be maybe a rain mud. I just don’t know. I can’t predict the weather being this far out. If it comes up a sloppy racetrack, I don’t think it’ll bother him myself. I’m from the old school. I think a horse who likes to run can run on anything, and you don’t have to carry their track with them.
David Grening: So what are you looking for from this workout on Saturday? I believe it’ll be his first work since April 26th.
Art Sherman: Right. I think they’ll go half a mile in probably 48 and change. We don’t need a whole lot. All I’d do is open up his lungs and get him the feeling of the racetrack. He’s run now three hard races. I want to keep it all in him. He’ll put it out when you run him in the afternoon and that’s where it counts. The morning workouts, all these guys are breezing along. They missed all the races so they have to keep their horse fit. You know, here he is running three races in five weeks. What do I have to do with him? I’ve never done that. I’ve been lucky to run one horse in five weeks, not three times.
David Grening: When you talk to your son when the people are around him here, do you hear in their voice the confidence that it seems like Willie Delgado…?
Art Sherman: Oh, yes. My son’s all pumped up now, because the horse is remarkable, you know, and he makes me feel good, you know what I mean? He says that he’s training good, and then I got to see the video there. There’s always somebody videoing him galloping and I watch him pull up and come back. I can tell when he’s grabbing a hold of the bit the second time around that he looks like he’s enjoying himself out there. I’m real happy when I can see that.
David Grening: Thanks. And you were coming in when now, sir?
Art Sherman: Monday. I’ll be there Monday—I leave—my plane leaves San Diego at 6:45 in the morning, so I’ll be there about 2:30. I might go right to the track and see my horse when I get there.
Terri Keith: Hi, Art. What do you think California Chrome has done for racing so far, and how much do you think this Triple Crown win, what will it do for racing and for Los Alamitos where you’re based?
Art Sherman: Well, listen, he’s the people’s choice. He don’t have to win another race as far as I’m concerned. He’s done about everything I could imagine him doing. He’s got such a fan base in California it’s unbelievable, and he’s the people’s horse. You know, he’s a home-bred and they’ve never had a California horse win the Preakness before. They’ve had the Derby, but even the Preakness was a big thing, you know what I mean, and if he does get beat, I mean all horses get beat sooner or later, you know what I mean? Something could happen, you know, we all know being in the races. But I feel good about this race coming up. He’s coming into it perfect, you know, and I think the people that are running against him got to worry about him, not me worry about any of the other horses.
Debbie Arrington: This has just been an incredible run. In your wildest dreams did you ever see yourself on the verge of having a Triple Crown champion?
Art Sherman: Oh, it’s unbelievable for me, you know what I mean? I’ve got to pinch myself every once in a while, and say, wow, you know, what a run this has been. The backing of people of—in California has been unreal. You know, I’ve gotten so much publicity on this horse. I’m doing a press conference here after he works on Saturday; there’ll be a lot of reporters. I’ve done four radio shows already today, and I tell you, it’s been nonstop for me, you know what I mean? It’s been just great. You know, a Triple Crown is a Triple Crown. You know, 36 years there hasn’t been a Triple Crown winner. I’m sure everybody is 100% behind me, you know what I mean? It would be something for the State of California, I could tell you that.
Debbie Arrington: Definitely. You talked a little bit about how Chrome just seems to be building in confidence. Have you ever seen a horse, you know, bloom the way he has?
Art Sherman: Well, you know, horses get good, you know, and they peak at certain times in their career. It just happens to be this time, you know, for him, you know what I mean? I’m just enjoying so much just being around him and his demeanor. I just can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to train a horse like him. It’s so much easier than having to worry about some $50,000 claimer that’s got a knee and an ankle, and, you know, different issues on him and you have to keep them going and keep them sound, and you know what I mean? It’s a pleasure to be around a horse that’s got so much class and is 100%, you know what I mean? I’ve got to pinch myself every once in a while.
Debbie Arrington: Very good. Well, best of luck, Art, and see you in New York.
Art Sherman: Thank you.
Tim Wilkin: When you first got this horse, how long was it before you thought you really had something?
Art Sherman: Well, you know, he won a stake as a two year old at Del Mar and then come back in the Futurity and got nothing but trouble. I really think he could’ve won the Del Mar Futurity. He had a horrid trip; cutoff (inaudible), spinning (ph) at the three eighth pole, got hit across the head at the eighth pole, in between horses. I think—and only got beat two and a half lengths. I said if it was a clean trip, that horse should’ve been unsaddled. That’s given me a big boost in what I thought was going to happen the next time he runs after, you know, he got some good trips. I had to make a change after that race, and a result you’ve seen him—you know—and he’s turned into something else, you know what I mean? He’s built up a lot of confidence and he’s running very good right now.
Tim Wilkin: During Derby week there were trainers—rival trainers that said that they didn’t believe in him because of his breeding because he was a Cal-bred. Did you hear that stuff, and did it bother you or did you care?
Art Sherman: Well, it personally (inaudible). I was training, you know, and, oh, he can’t be (inaudible) bringing him to Churchill Downs two weeks before he runs and work him over the track; this and that. You know, they don’t know the horse, you know what I mean? I had a very nice time here. When do you ever see them—they closed the racetrack just for him just to train. Where have you ever seen that? No place. I mean the people were so much 100% behind me to keep this horse that nothing could happen to him. It was just like they had so much pride that they closed the track for 20 minutes so I could be the only horse out there. So that’s got to show you that, you know, the people are all behind me. You know, the trainers could say, well, he’s getting special treatment. That wasn’t the idea. They just wanted this horse to show everybody where he’s from and the heart that he has.
Tim Wilkin: If you’re to describe him in a couple words, the horse, what would they be?
Art Sherman: Awesome.
Tim Wilkin: Very good. Thanks, Art.
Art Sherman: You’re welcome.
Jerry Bossert: I just want you to—I’m good. I’m looking forward to seeing you on Monday. I just wanted you to describe his breeding, you know, and did you ever think that it would get him here? I’m looking at the PPs right now and you see A.P. Indy’s $360,000, $600,000 purchases. Did you ever think…?
Art Sherman: I know, I know.
Jerry Bossert: It’s amazing.
Art Sherman: You know my thing on that is, you know, once in a while, if you look at, you know, in year’s by, A.P. Indy is the sire and Lucky Pulpit, and the other mare has got a lot of—if you go back on their pedigree they all have champions, and, you know, once in a while there’s a gene that passes through a horse that he’s extra special. I don’t know why but one turns out to be a runner, and I just think that everything went right. You know, it was against—first foal, like usually is small and immature, and he’s a first foal that turned out to be a superstar. So everything is not what you’d call the expert. Even the experts could be wrong. You know, you spend 6 and 800 and millions, 3 million, 5 million for these babies trying to find the right one. There isn’t really a right one until it comes around, you know what I mean? I don’t care how much money you give for a horse, there’s no way you’re going to be able to tell if he’s got that heart and the ability to beat somebody. So that’s the way I feel.
Jerry Bossert: All right, no, that’s great. Thank you very much and good luck.
Art Sherman: You bet. Thank you.
Alicia Hughes: Hey, Art. I just wanted to ask you if you could talk a little bit just about—specifically about the role that Alan has played in bringing this horse along and up to this level, and also how key he’s been in kind of taking—help take the pressure off of you in this five weeks of craziness?
Art Sherman: Well, I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t know what to do without Alan. He’s my right-hand guy. You know, he’s going to make a great trainer when he goes out on his own. He knows about horses, and he knows this horse like the back of his hand, you know what I mean? He’s been with him ever since he’s been a baby, and, you know, when he comes to the barn. I’ve got so much confidence in him and I know he’s doing the right thing. He knows my pattern on training the horse, and, you know, I really think he’s doing a super job and I can’t really describe it. He is my son, and we’re very close. Yes.
Alicia Hughes: And having him out front there handling a lot of the press conferences, too, how much of a relief has that been for you throughout all of this?
Art Sherman: Oh, I think he’s been doing a helluva job. I watched him. He looks cool. You know, sometimes it could get a little overwhelming, but I think he’s doing a helluva job. I’ve watched a couple of those, and I was laughing to myself because he’s handling himself pretty darn good.
Alicia Hughes: Thanks a lot, Art. I appreciate your time, and I’ll see you in a few days.
Art Sherman: All right.
Jim Mulvihill: All right, Art, one subject that we haven’t touched on yet is your owners. These guys have become a story unto themselves, especially Steve Coburn. You know, Tim was asking you when you knew you had a good one. Steve Coburn knew it, you know, the day this horse was foaled.
Art Sherman: The day he was born. He had a lot of confidence.
Jim Mulvihill: I mean did you…?
Art Sherman: I always laugh, but, you know, he said when—well, he dreamt about him and he’s coming out with four white feet and a blaze down his—you know, I mean I’d like to have a couple of dreams myself once in a while. I’d feel a little bit more confident if I could have a dream about California Chrome winning the (audio interference), you know what I mean? I’d feel real good about it.
Jim Mulvihill: I hear you. Well, and there’s also a story that…
Art Sherman: (Cross talking) everybody, you know, the story is so (audio interference) as saying, you know what I mean, and I wish him all the luck and he’s been great for the game. He’s the first big horse he’s ever had and turns out to be him, you know what I mean? What more could you ask for in this game?
Jim Mulvihill: I mean when he was giving you a map of how he wanted this still unraced horse to get to the Derby…?
Art Sherman: Perry Martin did that.
Jim Mulvihill: Did you think these guys were nuts?
Art Sherman: Well, you know—when you’ve been around the game as long as I have, you know what I mean, you’re bound to see everything that could happen to you. I looked at it and said, wow, they have big dreams, you know what I mean? I said to myself, I wish they could come true, and sure enough, four of the races he had on the road to the Derby he’s already won. So I said to myself, maybe they’ve got something going for him. I have no idea.
Jim Mulvihill: Well, apparently they did, and apparently you all have got something going for you right now. We really appreciate you taking some time with us today and all throughout this spring you’ve been great with us, and we look forward to seeing you in New York next week.
Art Sherman: All right. Thank you.
Jim Mulvihill: All right. Thanks, Art Sherman, the trainer of California Chrome hoping to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner on June 7th in the Belmont Stakes. I want to thank once again Jimmy Jerkens, Billy Gowan and Dallas Stewart for coming on earlier. NTRA Communications is already on site at Belmont Park. Joan Lawrence was there today. If you need anything at all between now and Belmont weekend, check with Joan or myself or Steven Panus or Penelope Miller. We’re here to help you. Thanks, everybody, for joining us today, and we’ll see you at Belmont. Michelle?